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Research Guides


Commonwealth Government Records about South Australia


Construction

The Public Works Regulations of 1905 provided that Commonwealth works would be carried out under the supervision of the Department of Home Affairs, which would then appoint works directors in the states concerned. However many works were carried out by arrangement with state agencies, with a Commonwealth-appointed Works Registrar.

By 1920 a Commonwealth Public Works Branch had been established in South Australia, which was responsible for the design, construction, management and maintenance of all Commonwealth assets. This included buildings, railways, aerodromes and airports, defence facilities, Commonwealth hostels, hospitals, housing, post offices, telegraph stations, lighthouses and customs houses.

In 1945 directors of Works were established in all states. However responsibility for the combined functions of property and surveys of Commonwealth lands, which until that time had been a Works responsibility, passed to newly created Property and Survey branches.

From 1945 until 1974, the Director of Works (later Construction), South Australia was responsible for the design, construction and maintenance of all Commonwealth assets in South Australia, with additional responsibility for the supply and maintenance of furniture and fittings.

Records held by the Archives created by Works include correspondence files, project files, project specifications, a large volume of plans and photographs.

SELECTED SERIES RELATING TO CONSTRUCTION IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA – ADMINISTRATION
Canberra
Recorded by: Public Works Branch, South Australia
Correspondence files (Burt Plain Bores), 1929 A536
Sydney
Recorded by: Works and Services Branch, South Australia
Diaries, Works Director, South Australia, 1920–45 D5313
Canberra, Sydney and Adelaide
Recorded by: Director of Works, South Australia
Correspondence files, 1932–97 D156
Job files, 1932–97 D618
Job folders, 1950–97 D1939
Job folders, 1950–97 AP948/1
Job folders, 1950–97 AP640/1
Project job files (structural), including Defence projects, 1950–68 AP487/2
Structural design job folders, 1962–68 AP585/1
Structural sub folders, 1940–79 AP1286/1
Photographs of buildings, installations, sites, 1946–97 D3481
Specifications (office copies), Woomera, 1947–57 D1163
Contract documents and specifications (originals), 'A' (South Australia), 1963–97 D179
Contract documents and specifications (originals), 'W' (Weapons Research Establishment), 1963–97 D178
Specifications (office copies), 1941–62 AP567/1
Photographically reduced transparencies of various installations and buildings, 1951–80 D5559
Sydney
Recorded by: Department of Housing and Construction, South Australia and Northern Territory Region
Minutes of Regional Directorate meetings, 1975–97 D3200
Register of heritage items and cultural sites, South Australia and Northern Territory, 1984–86 D5161
Adelaide
Recorded by: Director of Construction, South Australia
Information folders relating to National Estate buildings, 1976–91 D5159
Information folders containing copy of lists of original prints and drawings of National Estate properties and other documentation, 1977–87 D5156
SELECTED SERIES RELATING TO CONSTRUCTION IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA – PLANS
Sydney
Recorded by: Works and Services Branch, South Australia
Original plans for building site installation for government departments, Adelaide, 1926–52 D4806
Sydney and Adelaide
Recorded by: Public Works Branch, South Australia
Plans of construction works by Works and Railways, 1916–26 D4785
Original plans for construction works, Adelaide District telephone exchange, 1925–39 D4796
Original plans relating to Torrens Island quarantine plant, 1916–26 D4807
Sydney and Adelaide
Recorded by: Director of Works, South Australia
Plans 'as constructed' in job location, 1923–76 D1669
Original plans (negatives), Defence and Weapons Research, 1940–61 D1421
Office copies of specifications and plans for works, 1941–97 D75
Original negative plans, 'SA' (South Australia architectural), 1959–93 D125
Original negative plans, 'SC' (South Australia civil), 1959–93 D126
Original negative plans, 'SE' (South Australia electrical), 1959–93 D127
Original negative plans, 'SH' (South Australia hydraulic), 1959–93 D130
Original negative plans, 'SM' (South Australia mechanical), 1959–93 D129
Original negative plans, 'SS' (South Australia structural), 1959–93 D128
Original plans (negatives) of 'standard' drawings, 1964–82 D4824
Original plans (negatives) Commonwealth Bank Building, Currie Street, Adelaide (alterations and renovations), 1948–54 D4821
Original building plans for the Adelaide–Waymouth Exchange, 1969 D4783
Original plans (architectural/structural engineering) for the Reserve Bank of Australia, Adelaide, 1963 D4791
Original plans (negatives), architectural and structural engineering, warning systems for the Reserve Bank of Australia, Adelaide, 1963–81 D4792
Original plans (negatives) for King William Street Project, Adelaide, 1972–74 D4808
Original drawings, plans and prints of National Estate properties, 1847–1980 D1051
Original plans (negatives), 1914–59 D1423
Original plans (negatives), 1926–59 D1420
Sydney
Recorded by: Department of Housing and Construction [II], South Australia and Northern Territory Region
Original plans (negatives) of administration offices for Department of Housing and Construction and Bureau of Statistics in Mutual Community Centre, Adelaide, 1980 D4809
Sydney
Recorded by: Australian Survey Office, South Australia
Building plans and specifications, 1976–87 D4474

Civil Constructional Corps and Civil Aliens Corps

Wartime saw the formation of the Allied Works Council in 1942 under the National Security (Allied Works) Regulations. Allied Works branches in each state and territory assumed responsibility for Commonwealth construction until the end of World War II in 1945. These branches administered the Works labour forces such as the Civil Constructional Corps and the Civil Aliens Corps.

The Civil Constructional Corps was established in April 1942 to supply labour for the construction of infrastructure such as airfields, gun emplacements, barracks, roads and other projects undertaken by the Allied Works Council.

All men between the ages of 18 and 60 could be conscripted into the corps unless they were serving in the armed forces or employed in a reserved occupation. At its peak almost 54,000 men served in the Civil Constructional Corps. They were involved in hundreds of projects worth millions of pounds. Almost one-third of the total 77,500 men were conscripted.

The Civil Aliens Corps was established in May 1943 under the National Security (Aliens Service) Regulations, and came under the control of the Director-General of Allied Works. War Cabinet had approved this step as a means of relieving Australia's worsening labour shortage as the war progressed. Under the regulations, any male refugee alien or enemy alien between the ages of 18 and 60 could be directed to serve in the corps.

Aliens, who were required to register with authorities after war was declared, were classified according to their nationality as Allied, Neutral, Indeterminate and Enemy. Many of those who joined the Civil Aliens Corps were internees who were released from internment camps and sent back to their home states to await call up to the corps.

Members of the Civil Aliens Corps were required to work on projects of a non-combatant nature managed by the Allied Works Council. These included projects relating to road construction or the forestry industries. The Civil Aliens Corps was disbanded in May 1945.

In the Archives' collection there are nearly 2000 personal files for Civil Aliens Corps members from South Australia.

SELECTED SERIES RELATING TO THE CIVIL CONSTRUCTIONAL CORPS AND CIVIL ALIENS CORPS IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA
Melbourne
Recorded by: Allied Works Council
General correspondence files, 1943–67 MP938/1
History of the Civil Aliens Corps, 1945 B5619
History of the Civil Constructional Corps, 1945 B5596
Melbourne
Recorded by: Allied Works Council, South Australian Office
Personal files for members of the Civil Alien Corps enlisted in South Australia, 1942–48 MP14/1
Personal files for members of the Civil Constructional Corps enlisted in South Australia who served in the Northern Territory, 1942–54 MP14/2

Housing

The first Commonwealth–State Housing Agreement was made in 1945. The main impetus for such an arrangement was provided by a 1944 Commonwealth Housing Commission report stating that there was an estimated national housing shortage of 300,000 dwellings. The first Commonwealth–State Housing Agreement allocated funds for the construction of new dwellings only, half of which had to be allotted to ex-defence force personnel (see Chapter 6 for further information regarding War Service Homes).

The housing was only for rental purposes – the Commonwealth provided loan funding and the states were responsible for service delivery. Much of the housing constructed in this way was on large estates on the fringes of cities and contributed to the urban sprawl typical of the post-war years.

Since the post-war years, the Commonwealth has continued to form new agreements with the states. It has also introduced the Commonwealth Rent Assistance scheme, which provides private rental assistance, in a move away from public housing.

In 1973 the departments of Works and Housing were abolished and the Department of Housing and Construction was created. In 1975 the Australian Housing Corporation was established, taking over the Defence Service Homes Scheme from the Department of Housing and Construction. The Department of Housing and Construction's Regional Office (Housing) South Australia administered the home loan assistance scheme in the Northern Territory and South Australia. The Commonwealth sold the Works function in August 1997 to private enterprise as part of the disposal of Department of Administration service business units.

SELECTED SERIES RELATING TO HOUSING IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA
Sydney
Recorded by: Department of Housing, State Office, South Australia and Northern Territory
General correspondence files, 1971– D108
Construction and contract sub-files, 1945– D1217
Group building scheme contract files, 1973–78 D1218

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Chapter 4
Construction, property and survey